What Causes Acne?

cause of acne

Acne is a troubling skin condition, and unfortunately, science has yet to determine it’s exact cause. While stress can irritate acne, it is not the exact cause of it.

The most common form of acne is pubescent acne. As teenagers enter puberty, the body undergoes an increase in hormone production. This produces high levels of androgens, which include male sex hormones, primarily testosterone. Unfortunately, testosterone causes the body to produce sebum, the oil that is excreted by the skin’s oil glands.

Sebum clogs the opening of hair follicles, particularly those on the back, neck, chest, and face. Here, bacteria grow, eventually leading to blackheads and whiteheads. Often times, a buildup of this clogging creates pressure that breaks the hair follicle wall. After this break, sebum leaks into the tissues creating a papule—also known as inflammatory acne—and larger tender pustules also known as nodules.

Another possible cause of acne is oral contraceptives. For some women, these contraceptives trigger breakouts. Injectable contraceptives and intrauterine birth control devices (IUD) are also well known to cause acne.

For those of us lucky to escape our teen years without so much as a blemish, adult-onset acne could be the source of their newfound acne troubles. Some doctors agree that acne flare-ups have less to do with the actual androgen levels of puberty, and more to do with how a person’s skin reacts to sebum production as whole. Since the Propionibacterium acne production happens naturally in hair follicles, an accumulation of these bacteria results in a secretion of enzymes resulting in acne inflammation. Put simply, some of us are more susceptible to these breakouts.

Regardless of the cause, all acne can become a permanent problem if you don’t deal with it. Your dermatologist can provide you with more information on how to control acne and how to come through to the other side without scars and other issues.